Fasting and Why It’s Sexy

I listened to another great podcast on fasting and why Dr. Jamnadas, the featured cardiologist considered it ‘sexy’. Dr. Pradip Jamnadas is known for his work in interventional cardiology and has been awarded Orlando’s Top Doctor for over a decade. He shares the research and evidence he’s accumulated over 30 years of practice on why people get fat and how fasting can reverse heart disease, obesity and make your skin glow. I’m getting ready to do a 5-day fasting-mimicking program in January and this is the motivation I needed to kick my body into gear. 

Here are the highlights:

Why we get fat

The calorie theory of why we get fat is not true. It’s not simply calories in and calories out – it’s what and how often we eat that changes our hormones (like insulin). We are constantly bombarded with messaging that tells us to consume often, especially junk foods. These processed foods are like a drug and create an addictive habit that becomes nearly impossible to break. Dr. Jamnadas claims that highly processed foods should be labeled as addictive substances and chemicals! Recent data has shown that highly processed food is responsible for 11M deaths globally every year. These addictive substances which are laden with sugar, bad fats and refined carbs cause changes in insulin which creates insulin resistance leading to diabetes and a host of other diseases.

Why you should avoid vegetable oils

One of the first things Dr. Jamnadas does with his patients is to take them off all polyunsaturated vegetable oils along with trans fats. Vegetable oils like canola, corn, grapeseed are pro-inflammatory – they are easily oxidized and turn into trans fats which causes inflammation in the body. He recommends that his patients eat like our ancestors did – modest consumption of saturated fats from ghee, butter, grass-fed meats and organic poultry. He’s even leery of consuming a lot of heart-healthy olive oil – olive oil is a blend of about 50% mono-unsaturated and 20-30% of polyunsaturated and some saturated fats. So, although it is definitely better than vegetable oils, it should never be heated as it will oxidize into trans fats. Also, the wonderful polyphenols present in the olive oil are destroyed when it is heated. Olive oils should always be consumed as fresh as possible and sans heat.

What happens when you fast

According to Dr. Jamnadas, no drug can provide the same level of benefit as what fasting can do! When you don’t eat, your insulin level drops and the body switches to an alternative source of energy – your body fat. Because so many of us have high insulin levels, our body will NOT mobilize the fat stored in our cells. The insulin level must drop in order for the body fat to start mobilizing as an energy source. Then our liver goes to work producing ketones from the body fat to create the form of alternative energy. So the process of fasting unleashes the new metabolic pathway through the use of ketones. Humans are amazing creatures as we were built with this alternative pathway to survive through harsh winters/famines.

Benefits of fasting

Fasting is the process to get rid of excess body fat so you don’t get obese – a way to stay sexy! Fasting also makes your body stronger because it is a form of hormetic stress which is a controlled stress that triggers a healthy adaptive response. Hormetic stress can:

  • Stimulate a stronger immune system
  • Make you smarter through BDNF protein release (brain-derived neutrophic factor is like Miracle Gro for brains)
  • Release stem cells to keep you young
  • Increase growth hormone production allowing you to maintain and repair muscles

Out with the old, in with the new

Fasting stimulates autophagy which is the process by which our body clears out all our old proteins and cellular parts. It’s a deep cleaning for our body where sub-cellular organelles are destroyed and new ones are built to replace them. We have to get rid of the junk in order to make room for new cells which is HOW it can help reverse aging – this sounds like the Fountain of Youth!

Before getting started…

When Dr. Jamnadas works with his patients, depending on their state of ‘addictiveness’, he advocates transitioning to a whole foods diet first. He stresses the importance of fixing the neuronal pathway which has modified the brain to become addicted to junk food. Depending on the level of addiction, he focuses on changing the junk food habit pathways first before introducing any fasting. His belief is that a person’s psychological state is a much greater risk factor that their diet so also tries to understand what level of stress is contributing to the patient’s lifestyle before starting any program.

Fasting guidelines

  • First, transition to a whole foods diet and eat plenty of foods that are rich in nutrients and good for your gut microbiome (like natural fiber and pre- and probiotics)
  • Start with Time-Restricted Eating (TRE)/Intermittent Fasting (IF) – and gradually work up to a shorter window of eating. For example, eat lunch at 12pm and dinner at 8pm and then nothing until the next day at 12pm. This is an 8 hour eating window. You can then shrink this to a 6 hour window until you can get to one meal a day.
  • One meal a day is a 24 hour fast – once you get acclimated to this schedule, you can then work up to a 3-day fast.
  • As your insulin levels come down from fasting, you will have more urine output and electrolyte loss. So, it’s important to replenish what you lost – drink plenty of water and add some sea salt. I like this as it has salt and other electrolytes:  https://www.vitacost.com/liquid-i-v-hydration-multiplier-stick-packs-passion-fruit  
  • Your blood pressure will also go down when you fast so keep a BP monitor on hand to track (you may have to reduce your BP meds so talk to your doctor about this)
  • If you are a diabetic on insulin therapy, you need to have a medical professional to oversee any extended fasting as you may become hypoglycemic. It’s also a good idea to have a continuous glucose monitor on hand.
  • Did you know that your liver can store up to 2 months of vitamins?  So, there is no danger of you becoming nutritionally malnourished for a 3 day fast.

Here’s the podcast:

I have done a raw foods and juice fasting (~350 calories) program for seven days at a health spa in Texas (Optimum Health Institute – OHI) several times over the years. Although it was VERY hard the first two days (food and caffeine withdrawal headaches were no joke), I felt like I was walking on air after day 4 – my eyes and skin were much clearer, I had boundless energy and lost five pounds which stayed off.  After that first experience, I was ‘hooked’ on the high of fasting. However, the time (one week minimum) and resource commitment (it was not cheap) plus Covid made it difficult for me to return for my third week (which officially completes the OHI program). So, I’m sticking to the fast-at-home program (time restricted eating/intermittent fasting and fasting-mimicking program) for the time being.  To learn more about fasting-mimicking, click here: https://www.valterlongo.com/fasting-mimicking-program-and-longevity/

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